EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Role of Anthrosols and Anthrosediments in the Early Islamic Plot-and-Berm Agroecosystem by Ancient Caesarea

Adam Ostrowski1,2, Itamar Taxel3, Revital Bookman2, Lotem Robins2,4, and Joel Roskin2,5
Adam Ostrowski et al.
  • 1University of Haifa, The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, Marine Geosciences, Haifa, Israel (
  • 2Geomorphology and Portable Luminescence Laboratory, The Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies, University of Haifa, Israel
  • 3Archaeological Research Department, Israel Antiquities Authority, P.O.B. 586, Jerusalem, 91004, Israel
  • 4Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa, Israel
  • 5Department of Geography and Environment, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Plot-and-Berm agroecosystems agriculturally utilized marginal lands in a sophisticated fashion, where a high-water table existed within loose, aeolian sand sheets, in semi-arid to Mediterranean climates. The agroecosystems consist of polygonal (~104 m2) agricultural plots sunken between ~5 m high berms. Here we focus on the role of sandy anthrosediments and anthrosols, based on analyzing stratigraphic sections in remains of a Plot-and-Berm agroecosystem, 2 km south of ancient Caesarea (Israel). Geoarchaeological methods included pedological analysis, penetrometer measurements, GIS-based mapping, and portable luminescence (PPSL) and OSL for the analysis of construction and possibly maintenance stages.

Ceramics and glass date the agroecosystem to the 10th-11th centuries (Early Islamic period) that are compatible with preliminary published OSL ages. Preliminary finds hint to a sand substrate mixed during Roman times. Anthrosols in the plots have distinct upper and lower boundaries with limited root casts suggesting that the Early Islamic crops were annual and not woody perennial species like vines. The anthrosol is currently only 1 m above the modern groundwater table, which appears to have enabled easy access by hand-dug pits for manual irrigation practices per plot. Their topographic setting probably provided protection of the soil and crops from aeolian erosion.

The anthrosols and anthrosediments have geochemical and textural properties that appear to reflect their role. Anthrosols were enriched to enhance soil productivity. Berm crests and slopes were coated with ~0.3-0.7 m thick and dark anthrosediments that were topped with flat pebble to cobble size artifacts. This coupling remarkably preserved the berm morphology and the whole agroecosystem from aeolian and fluvial erosion until modern times. Light grey anthrosediments comprised the internal berm fill. Additional results will help assess the social-economic effort needed to develop and maintain this agroecosystem, and its relation to ancient Caesarea.

How to cite: Ostrowski, A., Taxel, I., Bookman, R., Robins, L., and Roskin, J.: Role of Anthrosols and Anthrosediments in the Early Islamic Plot-and-Berm Agroecosystem by Ancient Caesarea, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9973,, 2022.